Book Of Remembrances

Derek Hammond - Welwyn 41 Club

Derek J. Hammond Born 22nd April 1940 Died 1st October 2014

I make no apologies for the length of this Eulogy, Derek lived a very full life and entertaining Life, I, we will only get one hit at being reminded of what we shared with him and what we didn’t know.

Derek was born in Hertford County Hospital in 1940. No one can remember whether it was a difficult birth but I have a cranky theory that it was because his mother had an overdose of laughing gas, it brought about his wonderful and sometimes wicked humour and wit.

He had one older brother David.

He commenced his education at St Josephs School in Hertford followed by the North London Collegiate.

Derek's passion for cricket was established even before his passion for Maureen. They were introduced by Hertford wicket-keeper Lear, a friend of many years. They were married in Southampton in 1966, moving to Welwyn village soon after.

They have two wonderful, loving, and amazingly supportive daughters, Justine and Verity. They have equally supportive husbands, Christopher and Bashar.

Derek was so proud of his legacy, Justine, Verity and grandchildren Rania, and twins Zara and Adam, all of whom he adored.

Derek and Maureen soon became involved in local politics with Derek being elected the first Conservative councillor for the Hawbush Ward on the Welwyn Rural District Council. Unfortunately the Rural District Council was disbanded and Derek gave up his direct involvement in politics, which was a shame. Whilst he had strong personal convictions they were always tempered with a caring approach which won people over.

I wonder what he might have achieved if he had continued down that path, I suspect, a lot!

Maureen was elected to the Welwyn Parish Council and became the first lady Chairman. Derek was so proud of Maureen’s work in the village including the twinning and of the many children's lives she touched with her teaching.

Derek’s working life commenced with McMullen’s in Hertford. No not the brewery but seed merchants.

After a few years he left possibly because he only got free seeds and not beer. He then joined the Portman building society in London, followed by a move to St Albans as the Branch Manager. When Portman merged he became an independent financial adviser.

I wonder how many people know he trained as a registrar to conduct civil marriages. After qualifying, and having some bookings, his neuropathy sadly ended this part of his career before it got off the ground. It is sad, because I can just imagine some of the famous "Derek one-liners” he might have used.

Justine and Verity have many, many wonderful memories of their childhood, one in particular they recall is a trip to see Michael Jackson perform live on stage at St Albans, another was a trip to see Cher at Wembley, several to the Albert Hall and their very special holiday in America.

One that made me smile was their Saturday morning trips to Derek's posh offices in London. Most children would find that very boring, but Derek managed to make these an adventure, something exciting and special. He really was an out and out entertainer, wasn’t he?

Outside of his family, cricket was his great passion and in particular the Hertford Cricket club which he joined way back in 1956 to save you working it out he was 16.... and he remained a member for almost 60 years - quite remarkable!

Possibly because of his youth it took him some time to make a mark on the field, in his first season he scored three runs and wasn’t allowed to bowl.

Over the next few years little changed until in 1961 a kindly captain gave him the ball and he took 4—36. Over the next 11 years he bowled more regularly taking 148 wickets at a respectable average of 19.09.

Older ex-players may remember him steaming in trying to imitate his hero Wes Hall; he loved his tongue in cheek nickname “Wes”.

To quote Derek “I was always better value off the field more than on”. Derek was never short of a comment or two, be it tongue in cheek sarcasm, witticisms or ribald comment.

One of the highlights of his time with Hertford was when Christopher took him to see their match against the MCC at Lord's to celebrate their 200th anniversary a truly remarkable event, wearing as he always did at Lords his MCC bow tie with great pride.

Brian Box wrote to the family, “I will always treasure the memory of drinking champagne with Derek in the Long room at Lord's. It was a wonderful day and wonderful to see him enjoying himself so much."

He was so grateful to Christopher for taking him to see so many matches at Lord's and Hertford including six at Lords this year the last being on the 9th August. Justine who frequently went with them to Lords says it has rekindled her interest in cricket. Maureen also got along to some this year but I'm not sure that it has rekindled her interest.

He was so thrilled to be fit enough to go to hear Sir Garfield Sobers speak at the Gordon Craig Theatre on the 28th August and being able to meet and talk to him after his presentation. Derek recounted this evening on several occasions with great enthusiasm.

The letters and testimonials that have come from the cricket fraternity have been amazing!

David Hillard wrote; "Derek never really terrified the opposition when playing but we all had lots of fun."

Another said, "He was a true club man, a cricketer's cricketer with sheer bloody mindedness who always remained cheerful and optimistic."

A truer word may never be spoken of Derek other than he was a true English Gentleman on and off the field.

As an aside from cricket, albeit through it, he met Bob - Robert Simms - also a member of Hertford. They shared a love of writing plays and scripts together (amusing of course ). I can't find any record of them being published but I'm sure they saw themselves as Hertford’s Morecambe and Wise.

Another passion in Derek's life was Masonry and I'm not referring to any bricklaying prowess in fact I think it would be true to say Derek was not a DIY man.

Much as Bashar would not have wished Derek to be in hospital he was possibly relieved he had to deal on a daily basis with Maureen on the extension to the house to accommodate Derek's requirements.

But even without Derek being on-site it got finished on time as he wanted it and in time to allow Derek come home from hospital.

The icing on the cake was Derek's 'secret Garden'. He just loved it, often being able to get outside without any help and sit in his wheelchair on the patio, soaking up the freedom of doing something for himself.

Derek was so grateful to Bashar for what he achieved.

Everyone who has seen it have been so complimentary.

To go back to Derek's time in Masonry. He joined Shephall Lodge in 1979 and was given the highest honour a Lodge can bestow, Master of the Lodge - he took this honour twice. He was finally Chaplain of the Lodge which is a position of highest respect for the Elder statesman, similar to Father of the House.

He also held Provincial Grand rank, as past provincial Asst. Senior Deacon, past provincial Asst Director of Ceremonies and Past Provincial Asst. Grand Sword Bearer.

Peter Ilian secretary and friend wrote we joined the Lodge at similar times and one of the joys of a Lodge meeting, was getting Derek at the Festive Board to propose or respond to a toast, his delivery coupled with the wicked sense of humour would guarantee an occasion to be savoured.

Derek was an out and out performer enjoying so much the rituals along with the traditional working of Masonic meetings.

He must be one of the few people I know who enjoyed all the learning of the words you have to. I am well-informed by Justine and Verity that they can remember only too well the almost daily rehearsals and noises he made when practising his lines in the lavatory.

A name some of you will remember, Dennis Blackshaw invited Derek to a Round Table party at his house in 1977. Derek made his mark as usual and even though it wasn't easy to get into Round Table as we had 37 members and a very strict Membership Officer John leaning, I proposed him, John Beer seconded him and he joined in 1978. Like many friendships formed with Tablers they remain forever.

Round Table was a great fundraiser in the village with the Welwyn Festival only just off the ground; the old folks Christmas parties were amazing. Going out with Father Christmas collecting for the disadvantaged and the support given to Danesbury hospital. Ironic that Derek spent quite a bit of his hospitalisation there. He was always happy to get involved with charitable events.

There was of course the fun side with Table, New Years Eve parties, progressive suppers along with many involving the family including the Huntingdon regatta

For those who don't know much about Table it had an age limit of 40 when you get “kicked out” but Welwyn didn’t have its own 41 club

Along with eight other ex-Tablers Derek formed Welwyn 41 club in 1982. He became chairman in 1984/5 .We now have a membership of 41. Just like his cricketing social events he has been our principal speaker and frequently gave the vote of thanks to our speakers. Always excelling with his oratory and humour.

I was advised not to include any of Derek’s jokes as I wouldn't do them or him justice and having read so many over the last week I regretfully took the advice as I could imagine Derek cringing.

We have all so enjoyed his company and it was our sad loss when Derek’s lack of mobility stopped him getting to our venue.

It’s been a long 24 years since Derek was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, which attacks the nerves of the fingers and feet. He also coped with diabetes, Renal cancer and having the kidney removed. He was beset with Giant Cell arthritis, indeed when the feet got so much worse with the possibility of gangrene setting in he took it all in his stride without any apparent rancour or bitterness despite all those dreadfully long stays in hospital, being moved from hospital to hospital, ward to ward.

The system did not make it easy for Derek, but he defied the expectations even avoiding amputation when so many around him didn't have the foresight to realise how hard he would battle.

What other man would instil such respect that a leading plastics consultant, Mr Schreuder visited him just before he left hospital for the last time to say goodbye and express how courageous he thought he was. As did many other doctors, nurses and orderlies.

There were other’s that went that extra mile, Dr.Adeuja at our local surgery, Dr Seeva at Elizabeth House, Atef Hakmi, Dr Shah and Angie at the Herts. MS Centre.

He fought for physio as did his family because they knew it would help him achieve much more mobility and hopefully the ability to walk again.

He only found Angie by accident; she and her husband run the Herts. MS centre, which is a charitable organisation based in Letchworth.

I know how appreciative he was about what they did to help improve his mobility.

It was my great pleasure to meet Angie and her husband along with the 12 patients who knew Derek. They just loved to talk about him his cheerfulness and smile, determination, and courage gave them extra confidence.

Derek himself had long ago set himself a target of walking 200 paces with the aid of a Zimmer frame; he strengthened arms and legs with cycling and rowing machines and unbelievably got up to 180 paces at the centre.

I must mention Peter who took Derek to the centre, to Lords amongst other places in his taxi Derek nicknamed him “The wheel chair wizard”.

Out of the blue came the turn of the insidious disease in the form of lung and brain cancer and despite cyber-knife treatment they grew aggressively

He was still determined to do certain things; like ensuring his family knew what he wanted for each of them. Taking so much pleasure in Rania getting into the right school, only a few weeks before he died he went with Verity to support her with a presentation to buck the system at this school and was very proud of her success.

He was thrilled that Rania loved sport and entertainment. But he was frustrated that he didn't get the opportunity to take Maureen to Syria one more time as they enjoyed it so much,

But he did get pushed in his wheelchair around the village by Verity only two weeks before he died, to go to the barbers and enjoy a cup of coffee and chat at Church house.

He enjoyed his day (two days before he died) with Maureen's brother and sister in law sitting in his secret garden on a lovely summer day having lunch with a glass of champagne doing what he loved doing - communicating.

His gift of communication was so important to him and it was a gift he thankfully never lost.

Derek was courageous to the end and he died as he wanted to surrounded by his loving family, the doors to his secret garden open with the church bell peeling.

Adam, his four year old Grandson said when Verity told him Grandpa had died, “When he goes to Heaven he won’t have to have those bandages on his legs or wear those horrible boots anymore will he?"

And it would be wonderful if what Zara his four-year-old granddaughter suggested could have come about.

She said, "Can I send lots of balloons tied to a basket up to heaven to bring Grandpa back to us?"

But, we can't, so,

On behalf of your family and friends Derek I say we will all miss you.

On behalf of your family and friends Derek we will remember you.

On behalf of your family and friends Derek I say goodbye.

To a courageous gentleman.

God Bless